Growth Hacking Interview Series #68: Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan is an International SEO & digital marketing consultant based in Milan, Italy. Over 5 years of experience in the UK, China and Europe.

How would you explain specifically what you do as an SEO?

To generate visitors from organic search with the aim of achieving a business’ ultimate objective for their website, whether that be sales, leads or any other type of goal.

It’s also important to stress that SEOs should do whatever is necessary to achieve this which can include everything from influencing which content to produce and promote to improving the user experience.

Matt Cutts and Gianluca Fiorelli have both independently coined the term “Search Experience Optimization” which nicely fits with the role of an SEO today.

What is your primary marketing goal when it comes to delivering results?

It has to be the ultimate goal of the client or the company you’re working for, which the majority of the time will be either sales or leads.

From my past experience, it’s also crucial to fully educate clients about SEO so that they don’t get tied up with performance indicators such as rankings and vanity metrics; help them see the bigger picture and you’ll always be rewarded for it.

Which new skills are most important for SEO’s to learn in the next six months?

For many years now the roles of SEOs has been changing fundamentally from a focus on keyword targeting to multiple disciplines and I think we’re really at the point now where there will be a drastic shift.

It’s clear that focusing on UX improvements will nearly always result in a win for SEO too, so it’s important for SEOs to be getting up-to-speed with the latest best practices, particularly for different devices.

Everyone knows the importance of “content” but SEOs should be testing out different methods of promoting content, particularly as content amplification platforms such as Outbrain and Taboola continue to evolve and become more advanced.

What do you find most rewarding about SEO?

It’s always evolving and has truly become a discipline in which you need to be a jack of all trades. It’s a challenge to keep up-to-date with everything but that’s what makes it such a rewarding area of digital marketing.

I would also go as far to say that the close-knit global SEO community is unique among other forms of digital marketing.

How do you stay updated with the latest SEO industry news?

Twitter is my main source of the latest industry news and trends, although LinkedIn is a close second. I have a list set up on Twitter which contains all the people and accounts I follow from the SEO world.

I tend to take a look at least a few times a day, particularly going to and from work. I also share anything interesting with colleagues and vice versa which allows the opportunity to discuss as a team how to apply something to a specific client.

As an SEO, what is your favorite SEO hack?

Definitely using Google Sheets (Google Docs’ version of Excel) as a site crawler using the importxml and importhtml functions.

When I first found out this was even possible, it blew my mind! I admit, it’s not the most efficient solution to use on a large enterprise-scale site, but the beauty of it is that you can add your own rules to easily check your commonly-used SEO tags.

You can quickly see if any anomalies get flagged up, for example if a canonical tag that you would expect to be self-referencing (pointing to itself) is incorrectly pointing somewhere else.

Are there any particular SEO trends on the horizon that really excite you?

I think it’s really interesting how marketing in general has almost gone full-circle. When you think back to the ad agencies of yesteryear, it was all about coming up with a concept for a campaign and brand.

With SEO we’re no longer able to get away with seemingly-magic technical SEO tweaks resulting in massive spikes in performance; if you want great rankings now in a competitive niche, you need links from highly authoritative websites such as national newspapers and industry websites.

The most effective way to get these links are through offering products and services, or even through a marketing campaign which is truly unique, in order to become newsworthy and naturally earn links.

What are some of the top tools and apps in your SEO stack?

Aside from Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and others, I do use the Moz suite of tools.

It offers great value for money and its tools give you the ability to measure not just the traditional SEO metrics but also more social-related metrics.

It’s a shame that the most innovative enterprise SEO platforms such as BrightEdge and Searchmetrics are out of the price range of most smaller companies and agencies.

How is your typical work day structured?

If I’m travelling into Milan for meetings, I’ll be on the train checking out Twitter and LinkedIn reading some of the latest articles about SEO but also digital marketing and e-commerce trends.

I also spend that time reviewing and adding anything to my to-do list for the day. The morning is certainly my most-productive time of the day so that’s where I try to get the vast bulk of my work for clients done.

Afternoons are generally when I have most meetings with clients and I can also focus on both looking for new opportunities for freelance work and writing new articles and posts to help me build my profile a bit more.

It’s quite common in Milan to have networking “Aperitivo” evenings, which means drinks accompanied by bite-size snacks; there’s a significant and established tech and startup scene here, although of course not on the same scale as London or Berlin.

Which one book/blog post would you recommend every SEO should read?

I think the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz is a must-read for anyone new to SEO. For experienced SEOs, there are so many resources out there that it would be impossible to pick just one!

What advice would you share with other SEO’s who want to become more productive?

Definitely try to cut out multi-tasking where possible. If you’re responsible for an entire SEO strategy, it means that you need to be wearing very different hats at different times.

For example, my mindset when developing a content strategy is very different to that when I’m investigating a technical issue and trying to find ways to solve a problem.

Perhaps I work on the technical issue in the morning and content strategy in the afternoon.

If there’s one SEO Guru you’d recommend who and why.

Aleyda Solis has made a name for herself as an authority on international SEO and I think a big reason for this is her ability to create simple yet effective content, such as this hreflang generator.

I would also pick Bill Slawski, founder of SEO by the Sea who painstakingly sifts through patent filings and white papers from search engines, to give SEOs an insight into what developments might be coming their way!

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